Job Searching · Library Philosophy

Happy New-ish Year

Happy New-ish Year, gentle readers. After a three month hiatus I thought now would be a good time to jump back in the blogging pool.

Some quick updates:

  1. Job hunt continues. After a promising summer of interviews I’m still in the same position I was before.
  2. I’ve gone back to school. Since 11.5 years experience and a Master’s degree in Library Science don’t seem to be enough to qualify me for better employment, I’ve entered the University of Missouri’s Online Educator Certificate program to bolster my qualifications and taking some other classes to fill out my experience.
  3. While I’m a member of RUSA: STARS’ ILL Committee, I was unable to attend ALA’s Mid-Winter meetings in Atlanta because neither I, nor my institution, could afford to send me.

School started on January 17. I’m taking Digital Humanities (16 weeks) and Exploring Blackboard (8 weeks), then Exploring Moodle and Exploring Canvas for the final 8 weeks. Digital Humanities isn’t part of my certificate program, but by the time I got to register the primary required classes were full already. Since my job is in the same university system as the library school I only have to pay 25% tuition. That’s how I paid for it the first time around. This being so, I plan to take several classes that I missed during my graduate program or that have been added since I graduated.

I made several mistakes during my graduate program. The worst was not paying attention to job listings prior to my final semester. This has become my most insistent piece of advice to anyone entering or contemplating library school. As I built my course schedules during the four years of my time in graduate school I concentrated on what was required, seemed interesting, or seemed beneficial towards a traditional academic librarian’s career. By failing to pay close attention to the job market I was neglectful of the true trends and needs of contemporary and future librarianship of all kinds, especially academic.

In the past, I have expressed great frustration at the impression that I cannot be seriously considered for reference librarianship because I have no formal teaching experience. Not only do modern reference jobs require the ability to conduct traditional classroom instruction and assessment, but also the ability to build and conduct online courses. The reference course work I received, while generally competent and relevant, was far insufficient for the state of current librarianship. Hence the certificate program that I have now entered.

Classes like Digital Humanities, E-resources, Metadata, Assessment, Outreach, etc. which may or may not have been offered during my previous tenure did not cross my radar screen because they did not meet my image of what my career should be like. Had I been looking at job listings I may have made the effort to diverge from my narrower path to create better opportunities for myself.

Basically, my advice to library students is “Kill the Buddha!” Learn from my mistakes. Take whatever preconceived notions about your fantasy library job and push them aside. No need to forget them completely, but be open to alternate career paths. Start your job shopping now and pay careful attention to what’s really happening in Library and Information Sciences.

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